After the disappointment of sitting out two races yesterday due to boat damage in a collision for which they were awarded redress, Britain’s Graham Vials and Chris Turner sailing 'Floaty McFloatFace' from (Derwent Reservoir SC) are on the verge of winning their fourth world title after a flawless race today. There was only one race scheduled for day 6 of the Subaru Flying Fifteen World Championship at Dun Laoghaire on the penultimate day of the regatta.
The 72 boat fleet were kept ashore for two hours whilst the offshore breeze settled down enough to send the fleet out. It took several recalls and one abandoned race after the wind shifted all round the compass. Under dark black rain clouds and some light rain, finally, the Dublin Bay breeze decided to go back to the NW/W sector for long enough for the PRO Jack Roy to set a longer length windward / leeward race course.
Under black flag the fleet started around 1545 hrs in 16 - 19 knots sailing in the now familiar short chop. The first upwind was well spread from one side of the course to the other and it was difficult to predict a top mark leader. Early in the race Graham Vials and Chris Turner appeared to be ducking sterns but as all true champions do, they seem to carve a lane for themselves to appear at the windward mark in the lead, ahead of Irish boat Andy and Rory Martin of Strangford Lough YC and Charles Apthorp and his crew, local National Yacht Club member Alan Green.
The leaders split down the run with Vials / Turner going offshore and another British boat sailed by Justin Waples and Jackie McKellar (RCYC/WSC), going inshore. Vials and Turner had already carved out a handsome lead at the turn at the gate ahead of GBR’s Andy Mckee and Richard Jones (Dovestone SC) who had also turned on the afterburners down the run. Waples / McKellar made significant gains down the run.
The long beat back up to windward saw Vials / Turner extending again and McKee / Jones also establishing themselves in control of the second. However, the remaining top 5 - 6 spots were still up for grabs. British boats David Tabb / Chewey Sherrell (Parkstone YC), Richard Lovering / Matt Alvarado (Hayling Is SC) and Hamish Mackay / Andrew Lawson (Royal Thames YC) all had their chances but by the final gate rounding Waples / Mckellar looked to have third place under wraps.
The final winning margin for Vials / Turner, the champions-elect, was a healthy 1 min 30 secs over second-place overall McKee / Jones. Waples / McKellar scored their best result of the regatta so far with a very good 3rd, the highest position for a mixed crew in the championship so far. NB: Jackie McKellar is sailing her first major regatta in the Flying Fifteen class!. Lovering / Alvarado just squeezed over the finish line for 4th just ahead of Tabb / Sherrell in 5th.
Justin Waples and Jackie McKellar on their excellent podium finish:
Justin: “We saw the first aborted start and how it paid to go right and actually looking at the smoke from the chimney we decided it worked first time and it worked again so it was really as straight forward as that really.”
Jackie: “I think we made about 4 or 5 places by going down the right (inshore) on the first run. We were very pleased with that. It is a mixed boat and our first world championship sailing together.”
The final race of the championship is scheduled for Friday with Graham Vials and Chris Turner firmly in control on 19.8 points some 11 points ahead of Andy McKee and Richard Jones on 31 points. They do however hold discards of 19 and 23 as opposed to Mckee’s 21 and 7, so technically they do still have to keep their powder dry in the final race of the championship. Richard Lovering / Matt Alvarado remain in 3rd overall with 35 points, Australia’s Mike Hart / Dean McAullay 4th on 47 points and Nathan Batchelor / Ricky Rigg 5th on 49 points.
Andy and Rory Martin were top Irish boat with their best result of the championship 9th. Despite some fairly rough sailing conditions some of the visitors from France, Spain, Canada and Hong Kong have completed almost all races of the series never giving up showing the true essence of the corinthian competitor in the Flying Fifteen class. Indeed one of the boats sailing under the flag of Hong Kong is aptly named ‘Hakuna Katoa Katika’ which is Swahili for ‘Never Give Up’. She is sailed by Barry Hayes and crew Helen Selden. Worthy of mention to is the all-female crew of Louise McKenna and Hermine O’Keefe who sail under the burgee of the Royal St George YC in Dun Laoghaire. The ladies have sailed very persistently all week and only failed to finish one race by being one of 60 odd boats outside the time limit.
Andy Martin IRL3974 9th today:
“We were so jammy that the first race was abandoned!, and jammy in the start because under black flag we were being so careful because we have already got one DNF. We sailed the middle and got it our own way today and it is the first time in the regatta we were able to sail the shifts. My brother Rory who sails with me, his work rate is massive, he managed to pull us around the weather mark second, then I took a bit of a kamikaze gybe off and sailed right down the middle where we thought there was pressure but we must have done at least six gybes. We went around the bottom mark 3rd and then it's just a fight to hang on to places.”
Graham Vials on his horizon job today:
“We had a good win today, yesterday was slightly traumatic with the hole in the boat so to just go out and sail was nice. We were going well today, you have a game plan and our game plan is usually up the middle and take the shifts but be conservative,not to be too extreme. At one point we took some sterns because we thought the wind was going to go right which it did. We got into that and towards the top we got a really nice lift and what you can use out there was the chimney with the smoke. You see the breeze in the future and what it might shift.
Having rounded in the lead it was pretty easy from there on. We cannot rest on our laurels we still need a good day tomorrow.”